Delegation bills cover sidewalk cafés and special events

February 08, 2008|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

ANNAPOLIS -- Washington County's General Assembly delegation agreed Wednesday to file six bills as a group and to reject another bill.

The two liveliest debates were on a new excise-tax structure and another level of tip-jar regulation.

The delegation voted to file the excise-tax bill, which might be amended later, but not to submit the tip-jar bill.

Another bill the delegation agreed to file, but possibly amend, would require new permits for a "special event," including "an athletic event, entertainment event, or event requiring assistance whether held for profit, nonprofit, or charitable purposes."

Washington County Sheriff Douglas Mullendore told the delegation that authorities sometimes don't find out about large events with bands, tents, alcohol, electricity and food until it's too late to plan for them.

Police and regulatory agencies, such as the health department, need to know, he said.

Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington, questioned if the bill was too broad. As written, he said, it could apply to a wedding or a large birthday party.


The bill could be limited to events that require a road to be closed, he said.

Among the delegation members, only Sen. Alex X. Mooney, R-Frederick/Washington, voted against filing the bill.

Other bills the delegation agreed to file include:

· Giving the County Commissioners power to require that sidewalks along public streets be maintained, except in incorporated municipalities. Also, the County Commissioners may adopt regulations for removing snow and ice from sidewalks.

· Letting a state agency intercept income-tax refunds of former tenants who owe money to the housing authorities in Washington County. The same bill failed last year.

"If it goes down in flames, this'll be the last year," said Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington.

· Allowing sidewalk cafés to serve alcohol in Hagerstown and allowing catering businesses to serve alcohol off-site. Robert L. Everhart, the chairman of the county's liquor board, has said cafés in Hagerstown first would have to meet city standards before getting an alcohol license. Also, the Hagerstown Suns' pouring license would switch from a restaurant-type license to a stadium license, with no noticeable difference for customers, Everhart has said.

· Adding Washington County to a list of counties in which the county meets with municipalities to discuss tax money returned to the municipalities for services they provide.

The delegation agreed the previous week to file three other bills - requiring an annual audit for the liquor board, with copies going to the board and delegation members; altering certain duties of the county clerk; and changing the process for filling vacancies on the school board.

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